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Drama in the workplace

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NetflixNetflix is the number 1 reason I don’t get enough exercise. Mainly because being a sucker for a good story (current obsession: The Good Wife) means that I find it hard not to click ‘Watch Next Episode’ as soon as the credits roll…

But although I may not be getting fitter I do feel like I’m learning stuff.  Thanks to ‘Lie To Me’ I can spot an untruth from a mile away. ‘House of Cards’ and ‘The West Wing’ are the only reason I know anything at all about American Politics.  And after only a couple of episodes of the Killing I think, quite wrongly as it turns out, I can understand Swedish.

That’s because mingled in with the great scripts and acting performances are lots of other subtle, messages.  Messages about different cultures, though process, and procedures, and in walks of life that I just wouldn’t be exposed too any other way.   And that’s the great thing about quality drama, the writers do the all the hard work for you.  Dripping tons of research seamlessly into each episode to make what you’re watching believable.

It’s why quality writing works wonders in a business setting too.  A serialised drama or comedy is going to beat a PowerPoint every time when it comes to getting staff to retain information.  If there’s a vivid premise, relatable characters and a bit of action you’ll find staff anticipating the next instalment of their training programme.   Storytelling is a powerful way of uniting information with emotion, and in doing so engaging with your staff.  But it demands insight and creativity to present an idea with enough punch to be memorable. If you get it right, then you get people discussing your messaging at the water cooler instead of unconsciously ignoring you.

Now if you’ll excuse me I’m off to watch the next season of Game of Thrones.

Is your company ready for Employee Generated Content?

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Employee Generated ContentFirst things first, what exactly is Employee Generated Content or ECG? In case you’re not immediately familiar with the term ECG simply means anything produced and shared through an organisation by internal staff members themselves. So things like a company newsletter, video blogs, company wiki page, even a full on musical about the dangers of parking in the CEOs space they all count, as long as the staff are the driving force behind the content.

Why Should This Matter To Me?

If you subscribe to the adage that people are a company’s biggest asset, then allowing them to use their knowledge, wit and personality to help further your businesses aims has got to be a no brainer. Employee-generated content has been used to great effect by some of the world’s biggest companies – as everything from external marketing campaigns to internal training and team building. That’s not to say that those companies didn’t recruit a creative agency along the way to help shape and focus the campaigns, but it does show that the resources and creativity of your own people shouldn’t be underestimated.

To help you work out if your business might just be ready to consider EGC why not try the checklist? The more yeses you get the more you might want to start thinking about it…

•  Are your employees experts in your business?
•  Can your employees provide a unique insight into your products and services?
•  Are you looking to increase employee retention, work ethic or morale?
•  Are there some current best practices you’d like help propagating through the company?
•  Are you looking for a new way to connect management to the wider base of employees?
•  Do you have a company that operates over many different regions?
•  If so do your staff have different experiences and innovative solutions which may inspire others elsewhere in the organisation?

We’ll be thinking, writing and generally the strategising the heck out of employee generated content over the coming months so let us know if there’s a specific subject you’d like us to go into more detail about.

10 Ideas Internal Comms Can Steal From the Film Industry

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It’s always seemed a shame that corporate comms don’t get the same fanfare as the latest blockbuster release.  After all the launch of your latest initiative will have more of a direct impact on your staff than any action thriller or rom-com but it’s unlikely you’ll see employees quoting lines such as “ Get busy sellin’ or get busy fillin’” or “No one puts JC Electricals in the corner.” 

The film industry invests a serious amount of time and money into making sure they promote their movies because they know it works.  It’s how they’ll get people in the cinema and talking about the film off and on line.

Let’s assume for a moment that your marketing budget doesn’t quite run to hiring Stephen Spielberg to direct your next film or getting Scarlett Johansson to star in it – what else could you try?

1.      Hold a Red Carpet Screening 

Well why not?  Some clients are lucky enough to have their own onsite screening facilities but plenty of venues have a cinema screen that you could hire out for less than you’d think and it certainly delivers the wow factor.

2.      Staff as Extras

Throwing in a few cameo performances from your staff is guaranteed to get a buzz going.  Whether you run a competition beforehand or just rope a few people in on the day, classic roles such as Man Drinking Coffee or Woman in Lift always go down well.

3.      Create a  Trailer

Releasing a film without a trailer is pretty unthinkable nowadays and there’s no better way of warming your audience up to your upcoming campaign.

4.      Ambient Media  

This covers everything from Film Posters to Life Size Character Cut Outs, Messages on the Canteen Menus or even Digital Projections.   By putting your message out in unexpected places it stands a much better chance of being remembered.

5.      Create a stunt to launch the campaign

The film Up! sailed hundreds of brightly coloured balloons through Tower Bridge, The Simpson Movie rebranded 7 eleven stores as Kwik -Marts and painted a giant naked Homer holding a donut on to a hill in Dorset.   Your stunts don’t have to be as expensive as that but they should be big and bold.

6.      Brand and styling

Every film has its own brand – from the dark brooding style of the Dark Knight to the feel good branding of Happy Feet. Typeface , logos and slogans will all help create a sense of event.

7.      Website

By creating your own microsite or branding a section of your company’s intranet you instantly create a place where the films themselves and any other materials can live. It’s a great way to reflect your campaign and an even better way of monitoring traffic.

8.      Merchandise

Everyone’s familiar with pens, mugs and key rings so why not try something a little more unusual to get your message across?  Just make sure it works with the brand your creating.

9.    E-learning

If you running some e-learning modules as part of your campaign why not bring it to life with some characters from the campaign? Short video clips as rewards for getting the answers right can invigorate the learning experience.

10.   Games & Competitions

To really galvanise the team why not create a game or competition to get people actively taking part in the campaign? Easy to understand and simple to play work best.

Why not let us know if you’ll be trying any of these tips with your own campaigns?

Making Lemonade Out Of A Communication Lemon (And How To Make Sure It Doesn’t Happen Again)

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So you’ve just launched your new campaign – unfortunately the film you though was the firework has caused more of a whimper than a bang, so what do you do?  It may be tempting to just move on and forget it ever happened, but hang on there might be something more you can do.

Film, what film?

Firstly check that people are actually watching what you’ve made. It needs to be easy enough to find online or on your intranet site.  Would it have benefited from some more promotion? A poster or email campaign can help let people know why they should be watching.

What do you want me to do again?

If people aren’t reacting it could be a simple case of information overload – consider whether a  re-edit to create a series of a shorter film with a single message might be more effective.

So why am I watching this?

A bit of contextualisation can make all the difference, especially if you’re asking people to change their behaviour.  Look at new ways to communicate the film’s relevance to your audience.  Adding a message from your CEO or independent expert could help add weight to your case.

Who do you think you’re talking to?

Make the film too basic or too high level and you can risk alienating your audience.  By adding in vox-pops or testimonials from people that represent your viewer you can show you’re listening.

But did it have to be so boring?

Although it’s always better to get creative at the start of the project it’s not impossible to add a little extra sparkle later on.  A great voice over or piece of music can change the whole tone of the piece and if you’ve got some great comments but no visuals why not turn them into a quirky animation?

And the really good news is once you can pinpoint why a particular piece of communication isn’t working then you can target your next piece of communication far more effectively.

If you’ve saved a project from the brink of disaster or just been subjected to one why not tell us about it?

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